A significant transgender discrimination case may soon be heard by the United States Supreme Court. At issue in the Harris Funeral Home lawsuit is the expansion of the definition of sex discrimination under federal discrimination laws to include gender identity and discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
In 2013, a 52-year-old transgender woman informed her employer, R&G and G&R Harris Funeral Home, that she would no longer be dressing as a male at work. The funeral home had a strict dress code for employees who interacted with the public, which included suits and ties for male employees and skirts with business jackets for female employees. The employee’s Christian boss testified that his biblical belief that sex is immutable would not have allowed him to agree that the employee, born as a male, could wear female clothes in the workplace without violating the company’s dress code.
The employee had received positive performance reviews and regular pay increases during her six years working as a funeral director and embalmer at the funeral home. When her boss informed her dressing as woman at work was not going to work out and fired her, the employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency sued the funeral home, alleging the employee was fired for being a transgender woman and for refusing to conform to sex-based stereotypes in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
This March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the lower court, finding the funeral home violated Title VII, the federal workplace discrimination law. According to the 6th Circuit, discriminating against the employee based on transgender and transitioning status is discrimination based on sex.
The Court further denied the employer was entitled to a defense of its action based on religious freedom. Harris Funeral Home appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a determination as to whether Title VII was meant to provide transgender individuals with protection from workplace discrimination.
Transgender advocacy groups, such as the National Center for Transgender Equality, argue previous case law already has established federal sex discrimination laws, such as Title VII, Title IX, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and apply to transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Opponents argue the Court’s expansion of the interpretation of sex to include gender identity amounts to an improper rewriting of federal statute. Sixteen states joined an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court, arguing it should be left to the individual states to decide for themselves whether individuals should receive protections based on gender identity.
Middletown Transgender Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Handle Various Discrimination Matters
If you are involved in a gender or sexual orientation discrimination matter, the experienced Middletown transgender discrimination lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are ready to assist you. Call us today at 732-842-6500 or submit an online inquiry form. With office locations in Marlton and Red Bank, New Jersey, we proudly serve employers and employees throughout the state.